The 2023 MLB season has been off to an exciting start. And the New York Yankees have been an emblematic microcosm of just how fun yet dramatic this new campaign has been.
Whether it’s their stars lighting up the scoreboard to their youngsters highlighting spurts of their talent, the Yankees have catered a little bit of everything to start the season as they continue to attempt to close the AL East first-place gap the electric 29-8 Tampa Bay Rays have established.
Although the Yankees started off the season well, it’s been a different story over the last two weeks as they now sit in 5th place in a competitive AL East division with a 20-17 record to show for. There’s a handful of reasons why this slide has transpired for the Yankees, and injuries to some of their biggest stars is certainly at the forefront.
With new co-ace Carlos Rodon’s return delayed due to an additional back injury, he sustained, the Yankees are also missing Jonathan Loáisiga (elbow), Luis Severino (low-grade right lat strain), Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring), and just got back reigning AL MVP Winner Aaron Judge (hip strain).
But this is the nature of sports, particularly in baseball. One man goes down, another has to step up. And as a result of all these injured players, the Yankees have had to plug in some of their young stars to step up in their place. Considering there’s so many games still left to go, this certainly won’t be the first time the Yankees rely on their young talent throughout the season.
Because of such, we decided to provide our very own take on the Top 3 youngsters to watch for on the New York Yankees this season, whether they’re regular starters or not. Down below, we detail which Yankees that are 25 years old or younger are worth following this year and why.
1. Anthony Volpe (SS)
The 22-year-old rookie shortstop, Anthony Volpe, is the most obvious must-watch, 25-and-under talent on this Yankees baseball team. Not only is the new Yankee shortstop a starter (and at a very young age), but he has the untapped potential to shape into a franchise-caliber shortstop for a team that’s been searching for one since the departure of The Captain, Derek Jeter.
If you enjoy watching great defensive baseball, Volpe caters just that with his glove, coming with remarkable quickness when corralling ground balls and an underrated arm for his 5’9”, 180-pound stature. If you aren’t convinced, just take a look at the impressive play Volpe made on Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon earlier this season. The young Yankee prospect comes with a lot of strengths, with arguably his biggest being his defense.
But what makes Volpe such an intriguing player to watch (aside from being young as a rookie), comes down to his hitting. Over the first 36 games of the season, Volpe has posted just 25 hits in 122 at bats (.205 average), three home runs, nine RBIs, a .307 OBP, to go with 41 strikeouts (1st on the team). However, the season is still young, and when Volpe is on the base paths, he’s proven to be very dangerous with steals, as he leads the Yankees with 11 this season.
2. Oswaldo Cabrera (LF)
Along with Volpe, a must-watch player on the Yankees this year, is that of the defensive utility wonder Oswaldo Cabrera. Whether it’s left field, right field, third base, or shortstop, the young 24-year-old Venezuelan has flashed his glove skills and defensive resiliency in every which way possible and continues to be an invaluable cog on this Yankees team.
However, what makes Cabrera such a fascinating youngster to watch, comes down to also his hitting and how he can contribute more offensively. In 32 games played this season, Cabrera has just 21 hits on 106 at-bats (.198 average), two home runs, ten RBIs, and has posted a concerning .237 OBP.
The tough part about Cabrera’s slump is that the Yankees don’t have very many quality left-handed hitters, despite having a short right-field porch. Though first baseman Anthony Rizzo has alleviated this issue with some good hitting this season, it’s others like the switch-hitting Cabrera that the Yankees could really benefit from out of the left-handed batter’s box, and so far, that success has been hard to come by for the young prospect.
But with the season still young, Cabrera has plenty of time to bounce back, which is why he’s a must-watch player this year. To go along with a fun defensive style that’s led him to be utilized all over the baseball field, Cabrera’s growth as a hitter is something you will want to keep an eye on, particularly as the All-Star break draws nearer.
3. Oswald Peraza (3B)
The next youngest Yankee following Volpe is that of bright infielder Oswald Peraza. Though he is listed as a third baseman, Peraza can play at shortstop and second base as well and comes with an underrated arm as a defender.
What makes Peraza so exciting to keep an eye on this year certainly starts with how young he is and how much growing he still has to do. But what also makes Peraza such an intriguing player also boils down to how he played for the Yankees last season. Though he only played in 18 games over the 2022 campaign, Peraza flashed his true potential, finishing with 15 hits in 49 at-bats (.306 average) to go with a HR, six RBIs, and .404 OBP.
Though it took Peraza some time to earn his shot in 2023, he’s had a far tougher time reproducing his success from last season. In just 32 at-bats, Peraza only has six hits (.188 average), three RBIs, a .316 OBP, and no HRs. In all fairness, Peraza is a promising defensive talent that has just not received a whole lot of playing time. But the Yankees are also in no position to deal with poor hitting, considering they’re 24th in that category.
Peraza is currently overcoming a nagging ankle injury he sustained while on the base paths. But as soon as he returns to the lineup, he’s must-watch baseball and will be worth keeping tabs on as the Yankees attempt to pull themselves out of this early-season slump.